The Drama Queen is actually a Time Waster that is amped up on steroids. They are a legend in their own mind when things are going well and the biggest baby when it isn’t. They can sometimes be funny but they can also be infuriating. My first hand experience with a Drama Queen is my sister. She is larger than life but a lot of work. I find that after being with her I physically feel as though I have been trying to swim in a sea of molasses and then beaten with feather pillows. I am exhausted. Emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted.
We go through these cycles of “closeness” (for lack of a better term) sometimes I am her best friend and sometimes her nemesis. There are three of us; me, my younger sister and a younger brother and as I stated in a previous post our sister is right smack in the middle (literally and figuratively). M, my sister, is roughly 3 years younger than me and S, my brother, is 7 years younger than I am. Seven years is quite a gap when you are children so you can see how it was easy for M to become our go between.
Three years could sometimes be an obstacle too and so for years I marked these cycles of closeness with my sister as a simple age gap disconnect. I sadly didn’t discover what was actually going on until 5 years ago. There are several factors at play in this. The biggest is probably the fact that we moved a lot when we were children and on several occasions that involved changing schools, we always lived in rural settings, and so it was natural to cling to each other, my sister made friends quickly; easily. I, however, did not and from my perspective everyone loved my brother so it appeared that friendships were effortless on his part as well.
The second major factor, my parents are Republican, fundamentalists…that’s right folks, a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other. I am not certain how this happened, most of my family members are liberal Democrats. My Grandpa once told me if I ever voted Republican he would disown me. It was a joke but a well known running joke in our family whenever someone began to approach voting age. So, how did my parents become what they became? The truth is…I don’t know but it did go a long way in fostering sibling closeness because it was often us against them.
The third and final factor, isolation. We lived in the middle of nowhere…always, often hours away from extended family members. My father wasn’t big on extra curricular school activities or friends coming over or us going to a friend’s so our options for socializing was school and church and at one point in our childhood school and church both took place in our living room, which meant we were literally all we had.
Now that you have a bit of back story we can proceed. My sister has always been this larger than life, in your face, wild child and I have to admit that given our childhood, her over the top antics thrilled me. She lives life out loud without a filter and for someone, like myself who filters everything (until I am comfortable) this was a breath of fresh air. I loved that she could make my parents squirm in a way that my brother and I were incapable of. The problem with this; they often went to extremes when dealing with her. A social gathering looming meant potential unexpected and embarrassing outburst from M, which meant that my mother would try to manipulate her into good behavior and my father would go stony and silent.
Not that anything that they could do would matter, my sister lives to shock others. She feeds off the reaction that she gets. If my parents had been more observant perhaps they would have drawn the conclusion that not reacting would have lessened the onslaught a thousand fold. I can’t blame them, after all, this was a recent discovery on my end as well. If honest I have to admit that I, as well, enabled her bad behavior. Here is the thing with Drama Queens they need someone to enable their bad behavior, it’s like a permission slip. This is why they cycle in and out of relationships. You are enabling their behavior…you are in their circle, you don’t or they come across someone who does the enabling better and you aren’t in their circle. On and on it goes until you catch on and end the cycle.
They also do not care what kind of attention they are getting as long as it is attention. Infamy is just as preferable as fame, which is great if you are a rebellious teenager but as an adult with family and career obligations this is a nuisance and inappropriate. My brother and I have found this out the hard way. The things we used to love about our sister are now the biggest embarrassments. She also wastes our time and leave us perplexed, frustrated and exhausted.
It is her show 24/7. M will call, often in the middle of the night, and you get an hour long verbal onslaught. She has either done something that in her mind is extraordinary and she will go on forever about how great she is and how everyone concurs or she is in hysterics and everyone is against her and she might as well be dead. In the first instance, you aren’t really necessary, in fact 5 years ago I noticed that after I answered my phone I really didn’t have to participate in the conversation.
The other thing about this type of call…I find them rude. No, how are you? What have you been up to? How is…(insert significant other’s name here)? No, sorry to call at this late and ungodly hour. No, Is this a convenient time to talk? It is completely and utterly one sided. Her side. Not that the other type of call differs much, it is still all about her but you now have a participation role. Your participation is to lift her wounded soul up to the heavens so angels can wipe her tears. Sarcasm, I know. Apologies.
Actually, your job is to bolster her self-worth…endlessly and occasionally talk her off a ledge or five…no apologies this time…not sarcasm. How I wish I could say that these calls were due to something horrendous happening to her but they just aren’t. The simple truth is they are typically very minor slights and usually done without malice but it takes a lot of deciphering and looking past the hysterics and the melodrama.
The last incident that I was subjected to, as usual, took place in the middle of the night via phone. She was sobbing, hysterically and rambling unintelligently and hung up on me several times. My first thought was that something had happened to our grandparents, possibly our parents, but something of that magnitude would have had my phone lit up like Christmas, so, instead of calling her back in a panic I waited and fought the urge to call my brother and parents.
Her next call came in at 5 a.m. still in hysterics and still rambling. I was able to make out between sobs, “why does this always happen to meeeeeeee?” Ok! I can now rest easy that parents and grandparents are safe. She mumbled something about another call and “click,” she is gone and I am left listening to dial tone. This happened off and on during the entire day and finally at 10 p.m. we get to the crux of her conundrum.
She had gone on a date. They had met through some dating website and exchanged messages all week. They decided to meet, they had some coffee and a bit of a chat and an hour later he was honest enough to tell her that he didn’t think it would work between them. She is nice and attractive but they have absolutely nothing in common and it wouldn’t be a good fit. I admire his honesty. Her being honest on her dating profile would have prevented this whole incident.
It is easy to set boundaries with a drama queen but you will have to employ verbal, non-verbal and physical boundaries with them. They will not like it but it is doable. The good news is by limiting or removing yourself from these two types of toxic people (time waster and drama queen) you regain time that you had lost trying to help them. Time that allows you to fix you instead of them, time to foster positive relationships, time to enjoy the things you enjoy.
In my time away from my mother and sister, I found that I usually got sucked into their drama out of a guilt-ridden sense of familial obligation. I, mistakenly, thought that I had to save them. To take this further, I was attracting people like my mother and sister on a regular basis. I couldn’t figure out why and I started asking myself questions and peeling away the layers, which led me back to my mother and sister and our unresolved issues, which are basically just my issues. The universe is funny that way.
There is a basic universal truth that I missed…I can and should support other people but it is not, nor should it be, my job to save them. We are only responsible for saving ourselves. Supporting them is a form of helping. Trying to save them is actually enabling them or at least it is enabling those aspects that the universe is trying to help them come to terms with and so their transformation is hindered…and so is ours. They start to take on your perspective, which is great for you but might not be great for them. They need to be who they are and find their own way…with universal guidance.
We are essentially learning to be a leaf flowing on a stream of consciousness rather than a stream of consciousness carrying a leaf.